The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

September 26, 2013

Pirates' division hopes fall in Chicago

CHICAGO — The Pittsburgh Pirates’ chances of winning the NL Central were dealt a huge blow when the Chicago Cubs rallied for a 4-2 victory on Wednesday behind a three-run homer by Darnell McDonald.

Still, the postgame mood in the Pirates’ clubhouse was anything but somber.

“This is nothing new, the way our season has played out,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ll continue to battle, to go play. When we get the result we want, we put that one aside and try to go get another one. When we don’t get the result we want, we wash that one and get ready for the next game.

“We have a day off in Cincinnati and we’ll be ready to hit the gas pedal again on Friday,” he said.

With three games remaining in the regular season for each team, the Pirates trail division-leading St. Louis by three games.

The Pirates, who already have clinched a playoff spot, hold a one-game lead over Cincinnati for the first wild-card slot. The Reds, who also are assured a postseason slot, host Pittsburgh for three games to finish up.

McDonald had three hits, including his homer in the sixth inning that put the Cubs ahead 4-1.

“That’s one of the things that all of us can learn from right now, is we’re trying to get where these teams are at that we’re playing down the stretch,” McDonald said. “I think every one of us in here wants to finish the season strong.”

Pirates starter Francisco Liriano (16-8) certainly wanted a stronger finish. He was over 100 pitches when McDonald came to the plate in the sixth and already had surrendered a pair of doubles to him.

Hurdle thought about making a change, but never really gave it much serious consideration.

“He wasn’t able to get the ball where he wanted on McDonald,” Hurdle said. “There’s never a time I don’t like Frank on the mound. You always hate to have to go get a guy after the runs are given up. That’s the walk of shame. That’s on me.”

Jake Arrieta (4-2) allowed one run and four hits for the Cubs. Kevin Gregg allowed an unearned run in the ninth for his 33rd save.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Darwin Barney hit a one-out double and scored on a single by Anthony Rizzo.

The Pirates tied it in the third when Justin Morneau walked with the bases loaded to score Starling Marte. Arrieta avoided a bigger inning by getting the next batter, Garrett Jones, to ground out.

The Pirates wasted other scoring chances. They had a runner on second with two outs in the fifth. Morneau hit a leadoff double in the sixth and advanced to third with one out, but was stranded when Pedro Alvarez grounded out and Tony Sanchez struck out.

“If we make three good outs, it’s a 4-4 game going into the ninth,” Hurdle said. “Just by getting outs. Runners on third base with less than two outs is one of the challenges we’ve had all season. We have to find a way to cash in in those situations. It’s tough to keep pitching without a safety net.”

While the Pirates slipped back in the division race, they do have the safety net of knowing they’ll be in a playoff game next week regardless of what happens in Cincinnati.

“We just have to go there and play,” Liriano said. “We’re not going to try to do too much or change anything. We just have to go out there and play, game by game.”

NOTES: Dale Sveum doesn’t know if he’ll be coming back for a third season as manager of the Cubs. Sveum is under contract to return for 2014, but team president Theo Epstein has said all jobs will be evaluated after another losing season. “I’m not going to sit here and lie that you’re not wondering what’s going to happen in four to five days from now. That’s just human nature,” Sveum said Wednesday before the game. Sveum expects to hear about his future shortly after the season ends Sunday. “That’s part of the gig,” he said, “is knowing the day after the season.” ... Marte stole three bases, the most by a Pirates player since Andrew McCutchen on June 15, 2010. ... The Cubs are off Thursday before opening a three-game series Friday in St. Louis with LHP Travis Wood (9-11) facing RHP Lance Lynn (14-10). ... Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett (9-11) takes on Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey (11-11) on Friday.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • racin 0416 Jennerstown Speedway gearing for May open

    Jennerstown Speedway released a very ambitious schedule on its website and continues to prepare for its 2014 reopening.
    The track is set to hold a practice day for drivers as well as an open house and media day on April 26.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Hawks already building toward next season

    Jason Spence used up his cell phone’s battery on a trip from Johnstown to his parents’ home in Nova Scotia, Canada.
    Once the Johnstown Tomahawks coach got to his destination, Spence had to get creative to secure cell service across the border.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pirates 0416 Dominant Cueto drops Pirates in matinee

    That playoff loss in Pittsburgh last year? Johnny Cueto never thought about it much. So getting a chance to shut out the Pirates in a rematch wasn’t any more special.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0416 Penguins rally to wear out Jackets

    Brandon Sutter scored on a wrist shot from the left circle 8:18 into the third period, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday night.
    Beau Bennett and Matt Niskanen scored power-play goals 45 seconds apart in the second period, erasing Pittsburgh’s two-goal deficit.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pitt ends its spring practices

    No tailgating.
    No trip to a local high school.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • track_B1 WestPAC relays go to Windber boys, Berlin girls

    Rain showers and dropping temperatures put a damper on Monday’s WestPAC Relays at Berlin Brothersvalley High School.
    For the Berlin girls and the boys from Windber, however, discomfort was not much of a factor.
    The Mountaineers won their third straight relay title while the Ramblers reclaimed the title from defending champ Shade.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos